A fascinating article in yesterday’s Las Vegas Sun analyzes the hostile relationship between Nevada’s LDS senator, Harry Reid, and the majority of members of his own faith.
One reason given in the article is that, in 2006, when church leadership supported a proposed constitutional amendment to preserve traditional marriage, Reid not only voted against it, he publicly spoke in opposition to it. The Church doesn’t seem to pursue people’s membership for such public opposition anymore, but there was a time when they would have, and certainly the lay membership understands that such a stance is not in complete harmony with the expectations of faithful members to support our leaders.
Another major example of Reid’s public dissention, not mentioned in the Sun article, was a 2007 speech at church-owned BYU. In his remarks, he criticized some prominent, recent church leaders, specifically naming former church president Ezra Taft Benson, and said, “I think they’ve taken members of the church down a path that is the wrong path.” Wow. Calling out a prophet for leading the church astray, which our beliefs strictly say that God wouldn’t let a prophet do? That’s a little bit out of step, to say the least. What exactly is this “wrong path” down which we’ve been taken, Senator?
Just to show that this lack of charity isn’t only for his own brethren, though, Reid said in that same speech, “They are the most anti-Christian people I can imagine, the people from the Christian far right.”
I suppose I’ll be criticized here for a lack of charity myself, but a couple of things need to be understood. First, I’m not attacking Reid. I’m not questioning his faith, his worthiness, or his value as a person. Such vicious hostility is wrong, and I do not support it, not toward Harry Reid, not toward anybody. I am, however, pointing out some difficult facts about him that we need to accept and confront honestly when we discuss religion and politics.
Second, that is totally appropriate. Reid is a veteran public figure, whose public statements, even on his private beliefs, can and should be open to scrutiny. If a conservative member said such disdainful things about church leadership from their political perspective as Reid has, liberal church members would be rightfully indignant. It is absolutely reasonable to consider Harry Reid a poor example of loyalty to the church that I’m sure he sincerely believes in, just as much as a Catholic politician who repeatedly votes for abortion bills.
I’d also like to add that I can’t wait for this election to be over. I’m getting tired of thinking about Harry Reid, and writing about him. After November 2, hopefully I’ll never have to again.